ANTIQUE TOPOI AND THE FRENCH EPISTOLARY NOVEL IN THE 17th AND 18th CENTURIES
Topos is a term lying on the boundary between rhetoric, dialectics and poetry. Since Antiquity, there have been different definitions of this term. For the sophists, topoi were conventionalised rhetoric tricks. For Artistotle, they were logical schemes useful in the art of argumentation. Ancient topoi also existed in poetry as narrative scheme and motives characteristic for a given genre. Ancient Greek romance was a genre of expressive topoi. In the modern times, the 17th and 18th century French epistolary novel adopted most of its topoi. The conviction about the originality of epistolary novel in those times was based on the belief that literary topos as a recurrent motive is situated at a non verbal level of speech, and that the forms it takes in a language can adopt different stylistic features. Each literary work of the French classicism uses the topoi of its predecessors and becomes itself a potential source of topoi for the next generations of authors.